Hussein Chalayan’s spring 2020 collection reflected a study of dance and movement among various ethnic groups colonized by Western forces.

Archs of fabric mimicked movement, and he absorbed South American and Japan colonial-era culture into his sensible yet practical lineups.

The references were subtle — the only obvious element being jungle greenery on the projector screen. “Basically I fused them all together and then it became abstract, because it then became instinctive. It’s clothes. It can’t all be rational. Afterward, the process became very technical. The fabrics behave a certain way, so a lot of them are specially developed,” he said.

The opening look, a highlight of the season, was a luminous pleated shell-like dress that enclosed the model from behind. “It’s almost a fan frozen in time. And then I thought, why not make it shiny, metallic and floral. I don’t know, it felt right for me,” he added.

The Japanese influence was clearer in the second half of the show. Origami effects and cutout fabrics had a rigid aspect, while the springy, rounded dress that closed the show telegraphed a dancer’s bold movements in a creative fashion.

“I wanted to create volume around the body. First I was a bit scared of it, because it’s not very me, as in sensibility. But then, I thought, why not? I wanted to get the slouch but with the movement at the same time,” he said.

The other surprising element at the show was the walking sticks, which also appeared in his men’s collection. To Chalayan, it’s an embodiment of colonialism. “It’s something that’s restraining you but also helping you,” he said.

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